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Paid Family Leave Laws Pass in California, New York

Friday, June 10, 2016

(North American Meat Institute)

New York and California both significantly increased the availability of paid family leave for workers in their states. Employers do not pay for these benefits, which are funded through mandatory employee payroll deductions. California increased the benefits already available to employees under the state’s Paid Family Leave (PFL) program, which provides partial-wage replacement for employees who take time off for the birth or adoption of a child, including foster children, or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Under a new law signed in April, the PFL benefit rate will increase from 55 to 60 percent beginning January 2018. Low-income workers in California—those earning less than $20,000—will be entitled to 70 percent of their usual pay. The new law also eliminates the one-week waiting period for receiving PFL benefits.

Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in April signed the state’s Paid Family Leave Benefits Law. The new law provides individuals who have worked for a New York employer of any size for 26 consecutive weeks with eight weeks of paid leave at 50 percent of their usual pay, capped at 50 percent of the statewide average weekly pay, to care for a new child, including adopted and foster children; a family member with a serious health condition; or to relieve family pressures when someone is called into active military service. The benefits take effect January 1, 2018, and will increase annually until January 1, 2021, when employees will be entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave at 67 percent of their usual pay, capped at 67 percent of the state average weekly wage. Notably, the New York law also guarantees job protection to employees who take leave under the program, and does not provide an exemption to small businesses.

San Francisco’s government went further than California law by approving the Paid Parental Leave Ordinance (PPLO), which requires private employers to supplement the benefits available to their employees under California’s PFL program to care for a newborn child during the first year after birth or placement through adoption or foster care, to ensure that the employees receive 100 percent of their regular pay for six weeks, subject to the PFL cap. The ordinance applies to employers with 20 or more employees, even if only one employee actually works in San Francisco. For additional information about the above laws, click here.

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